ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is stepping down from his position at the bureau, sources confirmed Monday to Anadolu Agency.
McCabe is eligible to retire in March but is using accumulated leave to effectively depart his post early, FBI sources said.
His decision comes amid tensions between the bureau and President Donald Trump's White House, an ongoing special counsel investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the Trump campaign's possible collusion with the effort officials describe as seeking to undercut Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Shortly after Trump abruptly fired former FBI Director James Comey last year, he asked McCabe whom he voted for in the 2016 election, the Washington Post reported.
The FBI is intended to be independent from politics and presidential administrations, and Trump has since accused McCabe of political bias and questioned his ties to Clinton in an unusual public airing of disputes between a president and a senior bureau official.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters shortly after McCabe's decision was reported that Trump stands by his comments, but maintained the president was not involved in the decision-making process.
Trump ignored reporters' questions about whether he had been informed of McCabe's departure. Sanders later said he had not been.
Trump publicly asked in July 2017 why Attorney General Jeff Sessions had not fired McCabe, who was serving as the FBI's acting director after Comey's dismissal.
"Why didn't A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife's political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
He was referring to McCabe's wife's failed run for the Virginia state legislature, and the funds her campaign received from a political action committee run by a close friend of Clinton's. Jill McCabe's campaign received $467,500 from the committee linked to former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.
The Virginia Democratic Party, which McAuliffe is close to, gave her campaign an additional $207,788.
The matter was central to Trump's asking McCabe for whom he casted his ballot. It follows Trump asking Comey for a loyalty pledge, which he did not receive.
"I need loyalty. I expect loyalty," Trump said, according to Comey, who testified before Congress. Trump has denied making the request.